Pumpkin Karver, The (2006)

Pumpkin Karver reviewStarring Amy Weber, Michael Zara, Minka Kelly, Terrence Evans, Mistie Adams, David Austin

Directed by Robert Mann

You wanna know where The Pumpkin Karver goes horribly awry? How about a slasher movie that introduces a whole slew of characters, most of which are totally worthless other than to be victims, but only musters two lousy kills within the film’s first hour, and the majority of those characters never even get killed? How about a slasher movie that’s set in a town named Carver, that makes pumpkin carving and talk of carving a constant theme throughout, and boasts a slasher whose gimmick is initially set up as being one that likes to carve up the victim’s faces, yet the entire face carving angle is all but abandoned after the first kill?

The Pumpkin Karver is the sort of movie that just made me want to throw up my hands in disgust. It’s not as wretchedly unwatchable as so many other worthless DTV slasher movies I’ve sat through – I’ve seen far worse; it’s just hard to watch this movie without feeling more than a little annoyed. Maybe it all makes sense to the people that made the movie, but I’m here to break the news to them that the third act of their little slasher flick is asinine to the point of showing utter contempt for the audience. The Pumpkin Karver suffers from the double whammy of often feeling made up as it went along and having a script that couldn’t seem to make up its mind where it wanted to go with the ultimate explanation behind the killings so it just decided to do both endings – and neither one makes much sense. Instead we get double the implausibility and twice the aggravation; never mind the fact that there isn’t nearly enough actual slashing leading up to this stupid climax.

It actually disappoints me that The Pumpkin Karver turned out the way it did because in the beginning I actually had some hope that this might be a good one. This particular movie slasher sports a really cool mask (a rotting pumpkin face) and the concept of a scary pumpkin-masked slasher on the prowl at Halloween with a thing for carving up victims’ faces held tremendous possibilities. The film even gets off to a pretty good start with a nice prologue that sets up the story to come. Here I was at the outset actually thinking this might be one that delivers. By the time the credits rolled 82 minutes later, I found myself sitting there wanting to flip the bird back at the screen in response to what I’d just witnessed. There’s just no excuse for a movie, even a mindless slasher movie, to have this much contempt for its audience.

Halloween night, Jonathan sits at the kitchen table carving a pumpkin while his older sister is paid a visit by her moron boyfriend. Seriously, this guy comes across more like the kind of IQ-deficient jerkwad that would have picked up Kelly Bundy for a date on “Married with Children”. When you think back to this opening scene with him later on, it becomes harder and harder to believe that his “evil” spirit could possibly be behind the killings to come.

The imbecile takes a few moments to annoy Jonathan, then leaves. Big sis then gets paid a visit by a pumpkin-masked, knife-wielding maniac, who attacks her. Jonathan rushes in and bludgeons the masked psycho to death with his carving knife only for it to be revealed to be her boyfriend. It was all just a Halloween prank gone wrong. Mortified, sis exclaims, “What have you done?” Mind you, she was saying that to her brother. Her boyfriend may not have intended to kill her but he certainly took things to such a degree – literally attacking her – nobody would argue against justifiable homicide at this point.

Okay, so far so good.

Pumpkin Karver reviewJump forward a year and we find Jonathan and sis living in a new town. I don’t know about you, but if my brother had once killed a person in a pumpkin mask with a pumpkin carving knife and now suffered from terrifying visions of a pumpkin masked specter trying to kill him, for some reason I just don’t think it would be a good idea to move to a town called Carver that specializes in growing pumpkins and carving Jack-o-Lanterns for Halloween. But maybe that’s just me.

It’s Halloween time again. Jonathan quickly catches the idea of a local cutie, which doesn’t sit too well with her jerk of an ex-boyfriend, who seems to think physically assaulting one’s ex is a good way to get back together with them. Boyfriends in this movie really don’t come across very well.

We’re also introduced to a variety of other young friends for Jonathan, and presumably for the killer to kill off. Many of them will get way too much screen time for people that never get killed or put in any real danger. From there, characters go to an outdoor Halloween concert, characters sit around playing party games, characters wander around and talk to one another, a creepy old pumpkin carving guy keeps showing up to rant and rave like a psychopath, Jonathan keeps having visions of the pumpkin-masked phantasm attacking him, and every once in a while the pumpkin-masked killer actually bothers to kill somebody.

There’s hardly any plot to this thing outside of “Hey, it’s Halloween, and there’s a killer on the loose that may be an evil spirit seeking revenge against that Jonathan guy.” It’s a perfect example of a movie that feels its running in place. It’s just not going anywhere. When it finally does go somewhere at the end, you don’t buy for a second where it went because it did such a poor job establishing the reasoning as to how it got there. There’s nothing especially bad about the overall production; it’s just a pointless film with an ending that insults your intelligence.

Also, as stated earlier, there’s not a whole lot of slashing in this slasher movie and the whole face carving gimmick is applied to the first and last victim but everyone in between goes out by traditional means, whether it be impalement or decapitation. Why bother dwelling on the whole carving aspect at all if the killer isn’t even going to bother adhering to their own M.O.? I will give the film credit for daring to kill of a character you don’t expect to die, but given the number of characters skulking about, this killer doesn’t do nearly enough killing. Jason would never let this many potential kills slip through his machete-gripping fingers.

So we’re left with a slasher movie with a barely there story based around a bunch of stock characters that seems to be more interested in killing time until the highly implausible finale than actually killing those characters, which last time I checked was supposed to be the whole point of a slasher movie.

And special recognition goes out to the most excessively creepy for the sake of being creepy character since Jeffrey Combs turn as the world’s most pointlessly creepy hotel manager in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. I’m speaking about that seemingly psychotic in how own right old pumpkin carver who spends every waking moment rambling on about the art of carving, evil spirits, and whatever else he feels like raving about in as menacing a manner as humanly possible. The way this character fits into the story, if it turns out he’s just a red herring, then what a pointless, over-the-top character he was, and if he turns out to be the killer, then what an amazing coincidence that this crazy old man suddenly decided to go homicidally crazy on this very night within the vicinity of someone the likes of Jonathan.

So who is the killer behind the rotting pumpkin face mask? Is it the spirit of sis’ dead boyfriend back for revenge? Is it scary old pumpkin carving man? Is it Jonathan himself? Is it someone else entirely? I won’t reveal the killer’s true nature other than to say its total bullshit. It’s all bullshit, plain and simple.

1 1/2 out of 5

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Jon Condit

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